Gun show adventures

As regular readers will know, I had a (second) heart attack last November, for which (thanks be to God) I received successful treatment.  Now the bills are falling due, and since Miss D. and I are trying to avoid taking on new debt, we decided it would be best to liquidate other assets to pay them off.  An obvious candidate was my firearms collection.  I had several relatively valuable guns that I seldom shoot any more, because of physical limitation and lack of opportunity (writing is time-consuming, and hard work!).  I’ve kept my defensive guns, of course, but many of the recreational ones were available for conversion into cash.

I sold a number of them through an e-mail list of which I’m a member, and cleaned and spruced up the rest for a gun show in a nearby city last weekend.  I decided to rent a table there, rather than try to walk the floor loaded down with ironmongery.  It turned out to be a good idea.  I sold most of the guns I offered for sale, and found two more that I didn’t need, but bought on principle, because they were so well priced from a buyer’s point of view that they were irresistible.  (Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m a gun nut.  So sue me.)  Old NFO shared a table with me:  you can read his perspective here.

Over years of experience at gun shows, I’ve grown used to the characters one meets there.  Some are so well known, and so often encountered, they’ve become stereotypes.  There are always those who arrive on the last afternoon of the gun show, bearing several firearms they’ve recently bought.  They wander the aisles, making ridiculously low offers on guns for sale, and demanding outrageous trade-in figures for the guns they’ve already got in part exchange.  They’re looking to “trade up”, as the saying goes.  Two of them in particular plagued me yesterday, repeatedly coming back to my table, making low-ball offers, and acting indignant when I offered only fair market prices for their trades.  They eventually stopped coming back when they realized I wasn’t about to give in to their tactics.  They were just like most of their breed, trapped in a trade “vicious cycle” of their own making.  By always trading what they’ve bought, never being satisfied with it, they must lose thousands of dollars . . . but as long as they don’t mind that, I suppose it’s OK.

A notable difference at this gun show, compared to those I’ve attended in other states, was the heavy family presence.  There were dozens of families wandering the aisles, from toddlers to grandparents, all making it a social occasion to look at guns, buy beef jerky, cheap jewelry and candy, and generally have fun together.  Several vendors had bowls of candy on their tables, and offered it to passing kids (it was seldom refused).  I really enjoyed the family aspect of this show.  It was refreshing to see firearms treated as just another aspect of normal life – which is precisely as it should be, of course.  I think those kids are likely to grow up with a healthy attitude towards firearms, rather than being terrified of their very existence.  They’re just another tool in our toolbox of life, and should be treated as such.

One irritating thing was the discovery that a passerby who’d looked at a Stoeger Condor Outback shotgun of mine had somehow knocked it against the edge of the table, breaking off the rear sight.  I’ve no idea who it was;  the crush was pretty heavy on Saturday, and there were times when Miss D., Old NFO and I were all busy with other potential customers, so we missed it when it happened.  I had to pull the gun from sale.  I’ll buy a replacement sight from Stoeger and repair it, then offer it for sale again.  Frustrating, that.

Another frustration was a Taurus Tracker in .45 ACP that I’d planned to offer for sale, but found to be defective before the gun show.  I’ll send it to a local gunsmith for repair before I offer it for sale.  It should be easy enough to fix – it’s only a minor problem.  Two other handguns didn’t sell, but all the rest of the firearms did, so we cleared a healthy amount towards paying our bills.  I don’t think they’ll be repossessing my stent anytime soon, anyway!

As for the guns I bought, one will be added to my permanent battery.  It’s another Montgomery Ward store-branded version of the Stevens 520/620 shotgun, one of which I acquired and modified a few years ago.  My new acquisition is a couple of decades newer, and in much better condition than my first was when I bought it.  It has the safety catch behind the receiver rather than inside the trigger guard, and was priced at exactly half what I paid for my first.  Since another takedown shotgun is potentially always useful, I decided to take the plunge.  I’ll have a local gunsmith duplicate the modifications made to my first one.  That’ll give me a backup piece if it’s ever needed.  Federal buckshot with their Flite-Control wad (reviewed here:  I use their #1 buckshot reduced-recoil variant) should provide all the persuasion I may need.

The other is a Remington Sportsman 12 Pump shotgun.  It’s in very good condition, with decent woodwork and nice blueing.  The Sportsman Pump was Remington’s first attempt to make a lower-cost Model 870 – the classic Wingmaster was costing too much to produce, and thus priced higher than the market would bear.  They only produced the Sportsman for a few years during the 1980’s before switching to the even more cheaply made 870 Express model.  To my mind, the Sportsman is head and shoulders above the Express.  It feels lighter in my hands, has a blued as opposed to parkerized finish (which looks better, IMHO), and its lines are very clean.  It can even take 870 barrels.  The seller was asking a very reasonable price, but for some reason no-one was nibbling.  In the end I told him that if no-one else had bought it by the end of the last day, I would.  I sometimes encounter friends or acquaintances who need a shotgun, and this will make an excellent loaner gun for them.  I duly brought it home with me.  I didn’t need two new-to-me shotguns, but hey – when a bargain offers itself, who am I to complain?  Even Miss D. grinned, and said she wouldn’t hold them against me – yet another reason why I love that lady.

All in all, it was a busy, tiring, but also refreshing weekend.  Now to deposit the proceeds in our bank account, to keep the doctors and the hospital happy!



  1. My wife goes with me to the one local gun show here. She knows and cares very little about guns, but like to people watch. And having her right there has kept me from making offers. :-).

    .45 Tracker, huh. Hmmmm.

  2. My prayer, "Lord, if I should pass please don't let my wife sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them."

  3. Peter,

    Do you still have contact information for the person who revitalized your Stevens 520/620 shotgun (or another recommendation)?

    I am looking for similar work and would like someone familiar with the platform.

  4. I typically find something I really want and have a use for, then ask for the brother-in-law price. When the seller comes up with the price, I shell out the cash without any further dickering. We all have to make money here, and all of us want a decent price.

  5. @lee n. field: If you're interested in the .45, drop me a line.

    @Bob: That's OK. I've had the fun of them for years. Now that I no longer need them, someone else can enjoy them, while helping me at the same time. Besides, look on the bright side – at least I'm alive to pay the bills! There's a lot to be said for that.

    @BFR: Yes, I have his contact info, but right now he's settling into a new city, so he's not accepting new work. On the other hand, I'm sending my new shotgun to a local gunsmith to have him duplicate what was done to the first. If he does a good job, I'll mention it on the blog, and provide his contact details.

  6. The flip side of the buyer offering outrageously low money for the wares you offer is the dealer who offers *maybe* ten cents on the dollar for something you want to unload. I've read the Blue Book, pal. Yes I understand that you have to make a profit, but I'm not gonna let you rape me to do it.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *